DIMA HASAO DISTRICT
Jatinga Bird Mystery
As fog comes on a moonless night......
When the wind blows in direction right....
Jatinga turns into an island of search light,
& birds appear like ghosts from nowhere.
Jatinga, famous for the phenomenon of birds “committing suicide”,
is located on a spur of the Haflong ridge, the head quarter of the
district. It itself is an offshoot
of the main ridge of the Borail range. It is centrally located at the junction
of the roads leading to Haflong, Lumding and Silchar. Here the mist & fog
lie like a veil around the beautiful face of the damsel from September to
November. During these late monsoon months, mysterious behaviour of birds takes
place. However, some other conditions are also necessary for the phenomenon to
occur. The air must be foggy,
cloudy or misty. If there is slight rain, it would be even better. The wind must
be from south to north. It should be moonless dark nights. And the best time is
between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Curiously, most of the doomed birds do not attempt to fly away
after they land near the lights. They look dazed and disheveled, perhaps due to
the trauma of the whole shocking experience. Such birds fall easy prey to the
villagers. Some of the birds hovering around the light sources are brought down
by a vigorous swing of the bamboo poles. Catapults are also used to bring down
the birds in flight as well as those perching on the trees and bushes near the
Various studies have been conducted to
unravel the causes behind this phenomenon.
The record maintained show that 44 species have been attracted to the
light sources. It has been established that the birds are not attracted to the
entire Jatinga Ridge but only to a well-defined strip, 1.5 km long and 200
metres wide. Invariably the birds come in only from the north and attempts at
placing the lights on the southern side of the ridge to attract the birds have
failed. Another interesting fact has been brought out is that no long distance
migratory bird gets attracted to the light traps. The victims are resident birds
of the adjacent valleys and hill slopes.
The unusual behaviour of the birds seems to occur due to the peculiar weather conditions at Jatinga. There also appears to be a correlation between the breeding period of the birds and the Jatinga phenomenon. Studies also reveal that the flight of water birds to Jatinga may be attributed to heavy rains and floods and submergence of their natural habitat in the surrounding areas. It has been observed that there was a high congregation of birds at Jatinga during 1988 which happened to be a year of high floods. Renowned ornithologists Dr. Salim Ali, Dr. S.Sengupta, A. Rauf etc have carried out researches on this subject. However, no single hypothesis comprehensively explains the Jatinga mystery till date. The problem deserves deeper scientific study from various angles.
THIS WEBSITE HAS BEEN DESIGNED & DEVELOPED BY N.I.C., Dima Hasao District DISTRICT UNIT ON BEHALF OF DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION, Dima Hasao District, ASSAM